Double Amputee Racing Driver David Birrell Doesn’t Give Excuses
The Scottish veteran works double-time to win on the racetrack.
David Birrell has been instrumental to the racing community over the course of the year. After suffering a debilitating injury in Afghanistan where he lost both of his legs, Birrell picked up motorsport and has turned it into a full-time career. Beyond his dedication to the sport, he has proven himself as an inspiration to many through Facebook and social media including Billy Monger, the 17-year-old who suffered a horrendous crash in April. You may not have known his name before, but you won't forget about him once you've heard his story.
During Birrell's service in the military, he was involved in an accident that took his lower limbs as well as his interpreter's life. Birrell admits that it wasn't easy, saying in an interview with Para Racing.
“It really affected me. I was having flashbacks of the incident and I believed that I wouldn’t be able to drive cars anymore, something I really loved doing.”
As you can see today, Birrell has since beat that obstacle and put his motivation to work. He notes that he doesn't have to use many of the adaptations that you'd expect, and he doesn't look to be dealt with any different than the rest of the field.
“I don’t want to be treated as a disabled person, motorsport doesn’t differentiate us from able-bodied drivers. I am where I am because of my talent and hard work.”
Though Birrell looks to make a successful career in racing, his passion for humanity is even more imperative. He speaks with a sense about him that beams humility, and after a short conversation, you can tell what drives him more than fame or money.
After seeing Billy Monger crash and suffer a double amputation, David reached out to him through Facebook:
He then went on to meet Monger in the hospital, and reported back after his visit:
“Don’t be afraid to follow your ambitions, you can achieve what you set your mind to and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise—I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t set goals and worked hard to achieve them," Birrell said, as inspiration to other racers.
He's currently competing with Woodard Racing Organization (WRO) in the BritCar Championship. Birrell looks to become the first double amputee to compete at Le Mans without any vehicle modification, and at this rate, he'll be able to check that off his list of goals without issue.
Take what you will of this story, but more importantly, keep record of personalities like Birrell that make racing the way it is. After an incident like Monger's, everyone pushed for his success, raising over £824,303 to pay for his medical bills— 313 percent of the original goal. Keep that in mind the next time someone says something to you about generosity.